Wheels of steel
Skate Jam 7
The worlds of punk and skateboarding have been intertwined for decades, but as the popularity of skating evolves with new generations, so does the soundtrack.
The annual Skate Jam music and skating event at Jub Jub's Thirst Parlor is reflecting this with its first hip-hop artist featured on the bill. Landon Wordswell is a rapper who splits his time between San Francisco and Eugene, Oregon, when he's not touring around the country.
“When I was growing up, obviously hip-hop was a part of skateboarding, but then it was so much more on the punk rock side of things,” said Skate Jam organizer Dave Masud. “It's seems now that hip-hop is the more predominant style of music that skateboarders are into, so I thought it would be a good way to open it up for a wider crowd.”
Wordswell will perform not only during the day's event Feb. 29, but he's also a part of the all-hip-hop afterparty, which—unlike the main event—is not all-ages. Wordswell will be with Art of Rhyme, JB and T-LaShawn.
The rest of the music at Skate Jam 7 is definitely more guitar-driven, but it treats the definition of “punk” pretty broadly. The two local bands repeating from past Skate Jams—Boss' Daughter and the Shames—and the other locals range from punk to garage rock to indie to metal: the Saturday Knights, Heterophobia, Ummm Jr., Hired Fun and Opposite Ends.
The outta-towners are similarly diverse. Masud is really happy that he's snagged Protected Left, a bracing Oakland band that skirts the line between melodic punk and speedy thrash.
“I saw them last year in Carson City at Shoe Tree [Brewing Company], and they are just an incredible band,” Masud said. “They remind me a lot of Propagandhi, just really good songwriting and really nice people as well.”
The other traveling bands are Black Crosses, hardcore punks from Sacramento; and Ratz on Acid, a noisy “death rock” duo from Oakland.
Masud has managed to build an event that's become a Reno scene tradition, and there's a lot of organizing to get the balance right.
“It takes me six months to plan out,” Masud said. “In the early stages, I start putting out posts saying, ‘Hey, if you want to play, put in your submissions now.' This year, I had 40 bands submit, so it was kind of hard to pick. It was like, ‘Nothing personal,' but I want to get in as many bands that haven't played the event yet.”
Of course, music is just half of the point of Skate Jam. There will be huge ramps, including some new ones, set up all around the floor of Jub Jub's big room for open skating and competitions, for which there will be prizes donated by Carson City Wheelhouse. It's also an awareness event for Safe Crowds Initiative, a national group that works to make events, venues and festivals safe from sexual and physical assault.
Masud was inspired to re-start Skate Jam after his youthful memories of Reno's past skating-and-punk events.
“The Skate Jams I went to as a kid really had a big effect on me both in music and skateboarding, and I just wanted to be able to pass that on to the younger kids,” Masud said. “Despite how much work it is and how stressful it can be, it's just rewarding at the end of the day to think, ‘Hey, I made that happen.'”